Marzie's Reviews > Two Serpents Rise

Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read February 20, 2018 to February 24, 2018.

4.5 stars

The second Craft Sequence book takes us to a different place and time in the Craft World. Leaving Alt Coulomb, the setting for the first book, we arrive in Dresdiel Lex, with a burgeoning population of 17 million people, struggling to survive on rapidly diminishing resources. The methods of their short term survival are secured by truly abominable means. The protagonist of this volume, Caleb Altemoc, struggles with the realities of this world and with his painful family history. Caleb is the fulcrum for change but how that change can be safely and morally achieved is the unsettling question he wrestles with throughout this book.

Gladstone has built a complex and impressive world in these books. Magic comes with contractual boundaries and obligations in the Craft world. Rules and reciprocity dictate almost everything.

One of the things I like best about Gladstone's protagonists is that they always seem to end up in an "outside the box" resolution. The depth of motivation for some of the other central characters is a cautionary tale, however.

As to my overall feelings about this book, I like Caleb (and Teo) but I do miss Tara!

Onward to Full Fathom Five.

February 2018 Thoughts:

On second reading, what strikes me most about Two Serpents Rise is more than just the furthering of The Craft Sequence world. In this entry we see the sophisticated way that Gladstone has woven the anti-globalization narrative (and some of its failings) into the story. Published in 2013, on the heels of the Occupy Wall Street movement and more than a decade after the anti-globalization movement became a force in Seattle in 1999, Two Serpents Rise is just as fresh and relevant five years later. Once again Gladstone has taken real aspects of our own world and embedded them into his fantasy world in order to discuss the weakness of movements that rigidly proscribe things like global corporate development and the equally dubious prospect of the annihilation of culture without a genuine goal. The dialogues between Caleb and Mal are so well done, so pointed in their lack of resolution to problems that have no easy, and certainly no all-or-nothing, answers. Playing Red King Consolidated's power with an eye toward globalization versus loss of Quechal cultural heritage and unstemmed migration to massive urban centers is a storyline that could be ripped from any Asian modern history book.

I'm also struck in this readthrough by the father and son relationship between Caleb and Temoc. Caleb cuts his own path and for most of this book, Temoc is a seemingly ideal father who allows his son to find that path, which is so different from his own. This difficult relationship, due to their personal life choices, is handled with such finesse. You feel the love and wariness they feel for each other and that's a tough balance to convey. It's masterfully written here.

I appreciated Caleb more on this reading, though his naiveté with respect to Mal still bothers me a bit. Perhaps it's a feature of his character that we should like, though. Caleb has a good heart and wants to be a force for change and for good. The fact that he, like Tara Abernathy in Three Parts Dead, wants to forge a new career path provides a satisfying outcome.
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Reading Progress

January 25, 2017 – Shelved
January 25, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
July 4, 2017 – Started Reading
July 7, 2017 – Finished Reading
February 20, 2018 – Started Reading
February 24, 2018 – Finished Reading

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